General Guidelines on
Alcohol & Drug Policies
Alcohol and drug testing in the workplace can create some issues. Employers must take all practicable steps to provide a safe workplace and to identify and manage significant hazards in the workplace, but employees have a right to privacy and freedom from intrusion.
There is no specific legislation in New Zealand for introducing drug testing in your workplace. Instead it is based on a combination of case law and various statutes including the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Human Rights Act 1993, the Privacy Act 1993, the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Crimes Act 1961. There are some specific industries where extra legislation does apply like aviation and the maritime industry.
In Maritime Union of New Zealand & Ors v TLNZ Ltd & Anor the Court said that employers may introduce a drug and alcohol policy to the workplace without obtaining the agreement or consent of the employees or union, provided it is lawful and reasonable and that the relevant employment agreements do not require the employee’s consent.
However employers should consult with employees and unions before introducing a drug and alcohol policy into the workplace.
What should you consider for your policy?
Here is a list of things you should consider for your policy.
You may also need to have drug testing authorization forms for employees to fill in if they are being sent to an external provider for the testing.
For APPNZ members, the HR Resources library has some sample drug and alcohol policies for you to review so you can see what provisions companies have, and can consider what clauses may be needed if you are introducing a policy.
If you are looking to develop a drug and alcohol policy, we recommend that you seek advice from a qualified HR professional who has dealt in this area before, or an employment lawyer. Our Public Directory has recommendations on qualified HR Consultants, and Employment Lawyers.
: People Matter